TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — As kids head back to school on Wednesday in the Tampa Bay area, at least 10 new Florida laws are in effect that could impact their education.
Some of them have gotten international media attention, while others impact a much smaller subset of students but in big ways.
Parental Rights in Education
HB 1557: Parental Rights in Education, referred to by its critics as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, bans “classroom instruction by school personnel or third parties on sexual orientation or gender identity” in grades K-3 “or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students in accordance with state standards.”
It also requires schools to notify parents of changes to their health or well-being, prevents schools from encouraging the withholding of information about students to their parents, allows parents to access their child’s student records, lets parents refuse school health care services for their kids, and forces schools to get parental permission for health care screening.
The law also requires schools to respond to parents’ concerns within a week and resolve them within a month or parents can escalate to the Education Commissioner and sue the school district.
HB 7: officially entitled “Individual Freedom,” Gov. Ron DeSantis coined the legislation “Stop Wrongs to Our Kids and Employees” — or the “Stop W.O.K.E. Act.” The law states that instruction in Florida schools (and workplaces) “must be consistent with the following principles”:
(a) No person is inherently racist, sexist, or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously, solely by virtue of his or her race or sex.Florida House Bill 7: Individual Freedom, also known as the ‘Stop W.O.K.E. Act’
(b) No race is inherently superior to another race.
(c) No person should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment solely or partly on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or sex.
(d) Meritocracy or traits such as a hard work ethic are not racist but fundamental to the right to pursue happiness and be rewarded for industry.
(e) A person, by virtue of his or her race or sex, does not bear responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
(f) A person should not be instructed that he or she must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress for actions, in which he or she played no part, committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
SB 1048 (Student Assessments) ends the annual end-of-year Florida Standards Assessment and replaces it with three “progress monitoring” tests given throughout the school year.
HB 225 (Charter School Charters) allows charter schools to modify their charters at any time, requires 90 days notice if they won’t be renewed and automatically renews them if that notice isn’t given.
HB 235 (Restraint of Students with Disabilities in Public Schools) bans school personnel other than officers from using mechanical restraints on students with disabilities.
SB 236 (Children with Developmental Delays) expands the definition of “exceptional students” to include those with developmental delays up until age 9 or the end of 2nd grade, instead of age 5.
SB 514 (Substitution of Work Experience for Postsecondary Education Requirements) allows state and local agencies to substitute certain work experience in lieu of a degree or other postsecondary educational requirements.
SB 758 (Education) allows a state legislator to visit any school in their district without prior notice and creates the Charter School Review Commission.
HB 173 (Care of Students with Epilepsy or Seizure Disorders) forces schools to care for students with epilepsy or a history of seizures according to an individualized seizure action plan that parents can develop after it is signed off by a doctor.
SB 7044 (Postsecondary Education) allows the Board of Governors to require each tenured state university faculty member to undergo a comprehensive review every five years. The new law also requires schools to post a searchable list of every book used in school instruction or available in their libraries, and lets parents challenge those books. It also sets a 12-year term limit for school board members.